Like Dan Akroyd said in “The Blues Brothers,” actor Jonathan Roumie is “on a mission from God.”
Roumie — a devout Catholic from New York City —sees his work portraying Jesus on the hit Bible-based series “The Chosen” as ministry, he told CBN News. The 49-year-old actor made the comment during a brief interview from the Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.
He was relaxed but engaged, composing himself after learning seconds earlier his image — dressed in first-century clothing, of course — is one of the top results that appear in a Google search for “Jesus.”
It’s no surprise Roumie’s face has, for many, become inextricably linked to their perception of their Savior — a complex phenomenon no doubt weighing heavily on the celebrity’s mind. But with a series that has been streamed more than 500 million times, the correlation was bound to happen.
Snapped back to reality, where he was wearing a velvet fedora and blazer adorned with leopard spots, Roumie said it’s “completely humbling to be even in the same sentence as Jesus.”
“But He kind of put me here,” Roumie said after exhaling his emotion. “So I can’t shy away from the association completely. There is, for me, a sense of mission about what I’m doing and it happens to be in the form of entertainment. And that’s the gifts that I was equipped with by God, I believe.”
“I’m just kind of following where He’s leading me,” the actor continued. “And my entire life and career has led me to this point, and what happens going forward and where God puts me and how He develops my career is up to Him. I just pray to always be complicit in His designs and to not try to steamroll with my own hopes and desires.”
As an actor who believes in the divine inspiration of the show’s source material — the Bible — Roumie knows where his character is heading. With the lingering crucifixion hanging overhead, the actor said it’s perhaps more important now than ever to be “present,” personally and professionally.
Listen to them on the latest episode of “Quick Start” 👇
Season four, set to debut in theaters Feb. 1, centers on the persecution of the disciples as Jesus prepares His perplexed and, at times, discouraged followers for what is coming.
Without an intentional effort to stay in the present — a practice Roumie said he’s learned from Jesus Himself — it would be easy to lose sight of his work, of the “mission.”
“As an actor, I have to kind of be careful not to sort of telegraph too much, because I’m then also then not present,” Roumie explained. “So as long as I’m present, everybody knows — I don’t have to fill in the audience’s minds with what’s going to happen; they already fill that in.”
He continued, “As Jonathan, it’s the same thing. I try not to think too much about the future, because then it takes me out of the present. In my interactions with people, [I talk] about that very thing, about how important it is to be in the present moment, and about how Jesus must have been the most present person that ever lived, to be able to connect to people at such a level that we depict in ‘The Chosen.'”
Returning to the oft-blurred line between himself and the one true Jesus, Roumie said he tries to bring that same presence to his interactions with fans of the series, which has chronicled Jesus’ earthly ministry and will end with His ascension into heaven.
“When I have fan interactions … [I try] to just be present with the person, you know?” he said. “And allow them to just express how they feel about Jesus and me portraying Jesus and, sometimes, that line feels a little blurred, but that’s part of this experience, so I think it’s just important to just be present.”
Jake and Elwood were on a fictional “mission from God” to save an orphanage. Roumie is on a mission to portray a very real character — Jesus — and His promise to save anyone who trusts Him.
With the stakes so high, it’s no wonder he finds the work “completely humbling.”
To learn more about the theatrical premiere of season four of “The Chosen,” click here.
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